A Little Advice for Visiting Pike Place Market

When you live in Seattle — visiting Pike Place Market is both something to look forward to and dread. The market, which has been in existence since 1907, carries practically everything you can think of. You can buy fresh flowers, produce, fish and then also pick up a German newspaper, some African deck chairs and a used copy of “Atlas Shrugged,” if you so desire.DSC_0014

Pike Place is full of nooks and crannies and no matter how many times you visit — there is always something new to discover. So, why do we locals dread the market? Because it is probably the most visited place in Seattle and is constantly overcrowded with tourists.

Therefore, when out-of-town friends want to visit the market; I always advise them to go early, go hungry and bring cash.

Get to the market around 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. Most of the vendors at the market have set up by that point but the market has not begun to get crowded. Saturdays are the absolutely worse time to go. I recommend going sometime during the work week.

Don’t stop for food before heading for the market! There are so many amazing food stalls and restaurants to stop at. Some of my favorite places for pastries are Piroshky Piroshky (a Russian style bakery) and Le Panier.

Piroshky Piroshky is a tiny in and out place that is often crowded but everything here is delicious! Some memorable items are their oven-baked apple with sweet cream cheese and their Oskar Star. Le Panier is the resident French bakery and serves as an actual cafe where you can sit and have a cup of coffee or tea with homemade macaroons and chocolate eclairs.

For a quick bite, I like heading to the Michou Deli where you can pick up a panini or salad made with market fresh ingredients. Mee Sum Pastry is a Chinese dumpling and pastry shop that offers the perfect lunch to eat while you walk. Their bbq pork dumpling is incredible!

Bringing cash is not as big of a deal as it used to be due to the fact that many vendors can use their smartphones to make credit card transactions. But, I still recommend it because as a hustling and bustling place — cash keeps things moving quickly. Try and get cash before you make it to the market. I have seen a grand total of three cash machines in the market and they charge huge fees!

On the big draws of the market….

The Market Theatre Gum Wall is a popular place to stop and gander. Be aware that this is an area constantly swarmed by people taking photos and it’s not uncommon to see couples there getting their engagement photos done. This is another good reason to get to the market early if you wish to have an unencumbered photo session.

The Flying Fish is always a popular place to be. The world famous fishmongers throw a fish every hour or so and are entertaining to watch.

The first Starbucks is also located at the market. However, it is a major tourist trap and there is always a line of tourists out the door. Honestly! I think if I ever walked by it and there wasn’t a line out the door, I wouldn’t recognize it! From everything I have seen and heard, it’s worth just getting a photo of the storefront and continuing on.

In conclusion — avoid the hectic experience, but enjoy the market!

Any other tips on visiting Pike Place? Leave them in the comments below.

Photo credit: Mike Menshikov and Andy Melan

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American Favorites in London

When people ask me what I miss the most about the the States, my answer is immediate — the food. Unfortunately, my adopted country isn’t filled with many flavorful options (with the exception of really good curry and cream tea) and it has caused some homesickness. Thankfully, since moving to London, I have discovered a few places that serve some of my favorite things.

Espresso

The U.K. takes its tea very seriously but i’m from Seattle — a city that takes it’s coffee seriously. Note that when I’m talking about coffee — I’m not referring to Starbucks. Bearing all this in mind, the first thing I set out to look for when I got to London was some good espresso. After several unsuccessful finds — a fellow coffee lover put me onto Monmouth Coffee Co. Located on Monmouth St in the Seven Dials area just a stones throw from Neal’s Yard. There is always a queue out the door, but the service is fast and friendly and the coffee is spot on.

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Donuts

Electric Donuts in Notting Hill serves up delicious donuts made fresh daily. It’s based in the lobby of Electric Cinema, one of the oldest cinemas in London, on Portobello Rd. Electric Donuts run a small operation that only has four flavors of donuts at a time which are alternated every week. The flavors come in traditional chocolate and vanilla and venture into some more interesting varieties such as Maple Bourbon and Mexican Chocolate.

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Red velvet cake

It is true that there is red velvet cake in Britain — but it’s made with buttercream icing. True red velvet cake has sweet cream cheese icing. After complaining to an English friend of mine about the blasphemy of British baking over this icing issue, she pointed me towards Hummingbird Bakery. It’s a small chain in London that is known specifically for it’s red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing. In fact, they are Hummingbird’s best seller.

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Burgers and floats

Nostalgic 1950’s style soda shops and diners are not difficult to find in the U.S. They always sell thick milkshakes, good burgers, and there is always a jukebox with old hits playing. It’s an iconically American franchise, so I was surprised to walk into Ed’s Easy Diner in Soho on a rainy afternoon looking for lunch. I was thrilled to sit at the counter and get a good burger and a root beer float. Root beer is not available in most places in Britain and usually has to be imported by specialty shops, so the float was a rare treat. Ed’s even has the old rock n roll playing jukeboxes at every seat. All the money that goes into the jukeboxes are donated to charity.

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Pancakes

L’Eto Caffe was a recent find when a friend came to visit. We were on the hunt for a breakfast place we had heard about but when we arrived, the queue was wrapping around the building. Thankfully, we stumbled onto a great alternative — L’Eto Caffe. The place was one of those charming yet quirky cafe’s where everything is homemade and the prices are cheap. My apple pancakes came fresh made with real apple slices and creme fraiche as well as a side of fresh fruit. The best part is they weren’t heavy and cakey like a lot of pancakes I have had in the past.

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Photo credit: Monmouthcoffee.co.uk, electricdonuts.com, Andy Melan